Re: Kuhn in perspective

Paul Arveson (
Mon, 2 Dec 96 13:04:57 EST

In message <> Murphy writes:
> Donald E Degraaf wrote:
> > Ratzsch's book is well worth reading. A review of it appears in PSCF
> > _48_, Sept. 1996, pp. 188-191.
> However - one reason "Why neither side is winning the
> creation-evolution debate" (Ratzsch's subtitle) which he ignores is the
> lack of christological content in the arguments used by both sides in
> the debate. Thus the theology which is used (N.B., I do not say the
> participants in) the debate is sub-Christian.
> George Murphy

Good point, George. I tried to read this book but I got stuck at the place
where he says, regarding creation/evolution: "I don't pretend to know which one
is correct." Don and I discussed this at the ASA meeting.

This is a Kuhnian statement. It is similar to the one Don quoted, "even if
two scientists in different paradigms could all share the same observational
data, they might be unable to agree on the proper explanation or interpretation
of that data." (p. 117).

I am aware that philosophers of science are fond of showing that
illustration of the rabbit -- or is it a duck? Such arguments leave me cold.
They don't help us to resolve the questions, but seem to revel in uncertainty.
I have therefore lost patience with the philosophy of science, I'm afraid.

I am not a positivist or a reductionist, but I find my attitude more in
sympathy with Steven Weinberg's, in "Dreams of a Final Theory", where he
discusses "the unreasonable ineffectiveness of philosophy."

I think M. Polanyi had the proper balance. He was very critical of
objectivity, but also wary of relativism, and brought everything together in a
Christian understanding. But I never found anyone else who has read his book,
Personal Knowledge, other than Jim Neidhardt.

Paul Arveson, Research Physicist
Code 724, NSWC, Bethesda, MD 20817-5700
(301) 227-3831 (W) (301) 227-1914 (FAX) (301) 816-9459 (H)